Painting the Apocalypse – Part 2 – Hazmat Troopers and the Mutant Hill Mob

I’m still stalwartly ploughing through the (possibly radioactive) lead pile that is the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.

Recently I have completed the first of the two Hazmat Troopers from the set.  I have deliberately gone with a bright colour scheme for these guys and based them in such a way that suggests they might be ‘lost’ on a mysterious island somewhere, perhaps doing some work for a scientific ‘initiative’.

7TV Apocalypse - Hazmat Troopers

For the first time in a while I went with the technique of blocking in the base colours and then painting on Army Painter Quickshade dark tone dip.  This can be an effective way of shading miniatures providing you are careful to ensure that the dip is mixed well to start with, doesn’t pool too much and spend some time re-highlighting up afterwards.

Next up are the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’, a small band of ‘wacky racing’ wasteland warriors.  A lot of skin on display here, which always puts me off a bit, however utilising the wonder that is Citadel Reikland Fleshshade over a dark skintone base and then dry brushing and highlighting up with a lighter tone worked OK.

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I also felt that these guys would really benefit from spending the time to properly paint the eyes.  A very steady hand was required to varying levels of success.

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For the first time I also had a go at using the Citadel ‘blood effects’ technical paint – Blood for the Blood God!  This provided a nice glossy and gloopy effect that I used both on some of their weapons and also on their ‘skin conditions’.

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I’ve also finished my favourite figure from the entire release, the SLR armed traffic warden attempting to hold the ‘threads’ of society together in post-nuclear Sheffield.  I felt like this deserved a scenic base.

 

7TV APocalypse - Threads Traffic Warden 1

Next up I’ll be completely the ‘Road Warrior’, and then possibly dipping into some of the marauders, savages and militia.

Cold War Miniatures 3D Printed Rocket Part 1

“Dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body”

A while back I enthused about the wonderful retro science fiction figures available from Cold War Miniatures in their Princes of the Universe range.

Cold War Miniatures - Episode 4 - Attack of the Hawkmen

At the same time as picking these up I also purchased a set of STL files to allow me to print out a suitably retro rocket ship using my newly acquired 3D printer.

Cold War Miniatures - print your own rocketship
An example print as featured on the Cold War Miniatures website

The model was provided in parts to print up, clean and assemble.  It features a detailed interior with a removable roof and the option to model with steps up or down.  Once put together this would provide me with a great centre piece to go with my Flash Gordon cast for 7TV Pulp.

The print time was fairly long across all the different components.  I didn’t track it exactly, but when adding everything together I’d suggest that it probably took well over twenty four hours.

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The majority of the parts printed

I printed the parts a few weeks ago when I was still tweaking the settings on my printer, overall however they came out with the need for minimal cleanup.  I used a bit of plastic putty in some areas to smooth over rough parts of the print.  As there are quite a few curved surfaces I also spent some time sanding.

Once I’d cleaned up the parts, assembly was straight forward.  Superglue was used to assemble the components, all of which were printed using PLA filament.  The roof is designed to sit loose on the model to allow miniatures to be placed inside and I also chose not to permanently attach the steps so these could be swapped out with the ‘ramps down’ version in future.

In terms of painting the plan was to go full on chrome and silver, however right at the last moment I changed my mind and went for a striking red and gold colour scheme.  Although retro-styled to the 1930s pulp serials (as is the majority of the Princes of the Universe range); I wanted at least a nod to the classic 1980 Flash Gordon movie and this colour scheme fitted in well.

To further minimise print lines on the body of the ship I tended towards over spraying both when undercoating and base coating.  I also wanted a glossy look to the paint job and just so happened to have a can of Humbrol Red Gloss acrylic lying around.  By spraying closer to the surface that I would normally I was able to get a smooth finish on the (albeit not too course) surface of the print.

Other block colours were done using a variety of bright metallics in order to maintain the shininess.  Black was used to pick out the windows and fine details.

In the second part of this article I’ll detail the interior and look at other similar models that are available for 3D printing.

 

 

Friendship is Universal – A Visitors Cast for 7TV

At the recent 7TV campaign day I fielded my Visitors cast from V.  You know V, the one about the fascist space lizards who came in peace but really just wanted to eat us (and as many rodents as they could get their hands on).  Oh yeah and I’m not referring to the 21st Century remake (which frighteningly is around ten years old now).

 

 

I’ve had some figures painted up for a while.  Prior to the release of the excellent miniatures early this year by Crooked Dice, I had previously painted up some of the alternatives released a few years back by Nexus Miniatures (now YFT Design Studio) as well as doing some conversions.  In addition I’d also found some excellent close matches in the Inspectors set from Heresy Miniatures.

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Nexus Miniatures ‘Uni-tech’ Troopers
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More Nexus ‘Visitors’
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Heresy Miniatures ‘Inspectors’ – painted as Visitor technicians

I’m a big fan of V and quite rightly the original mini series is held in high regard, as is the slightly more action packed sequel, The Final Battle.  However I personally have a soft spot for the really quite terrible TV series that followed.

V_original
Some of the cast of the 1984 TV series

Possibly because this was my first exposure to the series as a teenager when Sky repeated it in the UK in the early nineties.  While (I think) the series starts off well with the whole concept of Los Angeles as an open city after the second alien invasion it quickly goes downhill and degenerates into ‘space Dynasty’ by the end.  For me the ‘jumping the shark’ moment was the exit of (the frankly excellent in anything) Michael Ironside from the main cast; for others I suspect this downward spiral came much earlier.

Minion Visitors - 7TV
I’d previously done some conversions using the 7TV Minion miniatures and alien heads

Anyhow, the point of this is that when considering a cast for my alien visitors I have included possibly an unexpected bias to some of those characters from the TV series.

My approach has been to base these on the base 7TV second edition profiles rather than use the alien cards from the recent Apocalypse edition of the game.  Following the (not too subtle) allegory of the rise of Nazism that the original mini-series followed I felt that using base profiles such as ‘Despotic Dictator’ and the various types of ‘Minion’ was a better fit.

The one profile that has proven tricky to get right is the iconic Visitor shock trooper.  I based these guys originally on ‘Minions’ but once the advanced alien weaponry was added they felt overpowered for the number of ratings they cost.  In the end I have aligned these more with the X-Commando profile from the Department X programme guide.

I roughly followed the guidelines for modifying profiles which you will find in the Producers Guide of the second edition rules.  In many cases this was just a case of changing the names of existing special abilities to make then fit thematically.  One good example being Diana’s ‘Conversion Process’ which is simply ‘Alien Duplicate’ from the Otherworldy Invader renamed.

I created all the card layouts using the 7TV Casting Agency online app, and the profiles are stored in various formats in the 7TV Productions Facebook group (where I will place any updates).  However they are also presented in full below.

Feel free to download and utilise in your own Machiavellian plans for world domination and inter-species dining.

Oh and remember, ‘Friendship is Universal’.

7TV_cast-Diana

7TV_cast-Charles

7TV_cast-John

7TV_cast-Lydia

7TV_cast-Steven

7TV_cast-James

7TV_cast-Nathan-Bates

7TV_cast-Mr-Chiang

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shocktrooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Security-Trooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Spy

7TV_cast-Visitor-Technician

7TV_cast-Sky-Fighter

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shuttle

7TV_cast-Visitor-Jeep

Invasion Aftermath – 7TV Event Report

The late May bank holiday Sunday saw a small (but very select) group of 7TV players gather in Darley Dale, Derbyshire.  This was the inaugural  7TV event for the Dales Wargames Club, who have recently caught ‘Baron Studios’ fever.

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The Mannequin goes for a stroll

Now as I may have mentioned before I am rubbish at writing up battle reports.  I simply cannot remember all the details of what happens in a game to a level at which I could write up something interesting.  Therefore this little narrative is more about my experience of the day as both a participant and the chief organiser.

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Just another day repelling the alien horde while sipping Dom Perignon for Hugo Solomon

The event was put together at pretty short notice, but following the mantra of ‘if you build it, they will come’ we got a good number of players expressing interest, primarily through the highly recommended and super friendly 7TV Productions Facebook group.  In the end we got about ten ‘producers’on the day, with the furthest distance being traveled from Cambridge!

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Summoned from the deepest darkest corner of the universe, behold the eldritch light!

The theme of the day was ‘Invasion Earth’, and there were some interesting casts fielded both in the defence of and plotting against our blue planet.  So Skeletor and his evil minions rubbed shoulders with the likes of Diana’s ‘Visitors’, some ‘ack, ack’ Mars Attacks aliens and robotic centurions from the 12 colonies.  Meanwhile our stalwart defenders included the SG-1 team, some special forces troops, Murtaugh and Riggs with uniformed support and of course (because it is 7TV) some East End gangsters.  Of course the Guru and Shiva also chanced their arm by trying to cash in on the chaos, as did the slippery Cobra Commander and his Cobra hordes.

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The dockside (with a sign of unwelcome ‘Visitors’)

Following the example of other events I have attended this was very much about having fun and telling a story, rather than being in any way competitive.  As a number of the Dales club members were also very new to the game I was keen to keep it as beginner friendly as possible.  We worked on the basis of 30 ratings casts drawn from either the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse versions of the game (but without the use of the Apocalypse vehicle combat rules).  I provided a few sample casts for folk to use who might not have access to figures and made sure we had access to quick reference sheets as well as trying to pair folk off together so veterans could play against novices.

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The wasteland refinery

Running at 30 ratings meant we could get at least 3 games in, and we sized most of the tables and terrain layouts to support the smaller sized games.  As well as using some of my personal terrain and scenery we also lent on the extensive collection at the club.  In addition we also asked for attendees to bring along a board if they could.  Special mention to Carl for his airbase setup (complete with cargo transporter) which took away the prize for best ‘set designer’.

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The award winning airbase table

Talking of prize support, a very special thanks must go out to Karl at Crooked Dice for donating a 7TV boxed set as the top prize and Wayne from Wargames Illustrated (who attended with his Cyclons) for additional prizes of annual subscriptions to the magazine.  Also massive thanks to Wayne for also donating a significant number of miniatures and models which we were able to offer to attendees for a donation to the club coffers.

So how did my games go?  OK I think is the answer.  I was fielding my ‘V’ cast which is pretty much exclusively based on 7TV core profiles (with some minor tweaks) using a mix of the excellent recent models from Crooked Dice as well as some older miniatures from Nexus/YFT Design Studio.

My first game was against a new club member Nigel who had turned up on the day just wanting to watch some games and was immediately drafted into the event.  Fair to say I think we got another convert there.  We played pretty much a ‘learning game’ on the airbase setup where the Visitors took on Hugo Solomon and Department X.  Let’s just say it didn’t end up well for the lizards from Sirius.

My second game was against fellow club member and recent 7TV evangelist Robin on our ‘Weird World War’ table.  This time Diana and her orange glad goons were up against the sinister Guru and his Shiva organisation.  Another fun game on one of the larger boards on the day.  For the life of me I cannot remember the outcome of this (I think it was a tie).  The highlight had to be the draw of that classic countdown event card (‘script editing’ I think) that resulted in our stars swapping places, with hilarious consequences (not many of which were good for either of us).

Finally I was up against Kieron and his excellent ‘Masters of the Universe’ cast. Comprising of Skeletor, Beastman, Trap Jaw and other undesirables from Eternia, they just happened to find themselves in the cargo area of a typical industrial sea port.  I do remember the details of this one pretty well, because due to a combination of excellent dice rolling on the one hand, terrible dice rolling on the other and really effective use of tactics I conspired to lose this game about four turns in.  For the uninitiated a typical game of 7TV can last anything up to twenty or more turns!  Now as we know it’s all about the narrative with a game like this, but I take some pride in being able to say I lost eleven victory points to nil in such record time.

Needless to say we had time for another game, but consigning Diana and co to the long list of failed invaders of Earth I swapped out for a small G.I.Joe Cobra cast I had put together.  A much more even (and indeed longer) game was had.  Again a lot of laughs and a very tight finish.

All in all an excellent day.  Our club venue worked well as did the format.  I think one lesson learned for future events is not to hold these on a bank holiday weekend, we had quite a list of people who were unable to attend because of this.

As I’ve already mentioned Carl won a years subscription to Wargames Illustrated for best table.  Kieron won best Director (players favourite cast) with Skeletor and friends, and Colin won the overall prize for best Producer for most sporting player and favourite opponent.  All awards were voted for by the participants.

Buoyed by the feedback we’ve got, I’m already planning on running another event at some point.  Dales Wargames Club continues to meet on a monthly basis at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale just outside Matlock.  You can checkout our Facebook group for details about upcoming meetings (we have a Saga Ironman event scheduled in July).

I’d also like to give a shout out to Kieron and Carl who have both written up nice articles about the day on their respective blogs:

Finally I’d like to give another big shout out to Karl at Crooked Dice for continuing to produce such a great game, but equally in supporting the community that has built up around it.

 

Aliens APC in 28mm scale (3D printed)

For an ‘Aliens obsessed’ friend I recently completed printing, assembling and painting the iconic Colonial Marines Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Aliens APC - movie still

There were no shortage of models available to browse and download on Thingiverse.  The once I settled on, based on being both pre-scaled and available to print almost in one piece (a big advantage of the large print bed the CR-10S gives me) was this by Iava808.

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APC in 28mm by Iava808 – one piece chassis.  Wheels and turrets printed separately.

Overall print time was long!  The chassis alone took nearly a day, however the resulting model was well worth it.

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Printed components ready for assembly and painting.  SunTop Silk PLA filament.

Using a base of PSC German Field Grey from a can and a bit of drybrush highlighting followed by a wash of Citadel Athonian Camoshade did the job nicely.

APC painted
Painted with Prodos ‘Unicast’ marine for scale reference.  Top turret and door are movable.

As the nice gentleman said: “Game over man, game over…”.

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 2 – Refinery and Crane

I’ve managed to get a bit more work on the 28mm scale scratch built Oil Rig.  Having finished off the bulk of the superstructure I’ve now moved on to looking at the main body of the rig.

As previously discussed I have approached this in a module manner.  Each of the 2 foot square tiles now has a removable leg support and ‘concrete boot’, the idea being that the four of them can be arranged in any combination to vary the gaming service as required.  Each of these component parts of the platform will be themed to a specific ‘function’ of the oil rig and in summary these will be bridge/ops centre/crew quarters, helicopter landing pad, loading crane/storage area and refinery.

It’s the latter two that I have been initially concentrating on.

Refinery

For the refinery I have used a modular plastic model kit of a ‘Chemical Plant’.  Manufactured by Tehnolog in Russia, but sold under licence around the world (in the US by Pegasus Hobbies and the UK by Pocketbond) this kit is out of production but you can still find the odd boxed and version on eBay.

chemical_plant_box

I picked up a complete set a few months ago with the original intention of this being used for a post apocalypse tabletop for 7TV.  In the end this fits the bill for ‘the business end’ of the oil rig quite nicely.  Fully hard plastic and stuffed full of components, this is really like a lego kit for wargames scenery builders.  It does have some instructions and suggestions on how to build, but I really just free formed it with all the pipes, valves and tanks available.  This did end up being a bit fiddly, but was a gentle distraction for a couple of hours.  In addition to the core bits and pieces from the kit I added in some extra touches from my bits box, including some 40k scenery bits (in red plastic in the photos) and some platform pieces from the Robogear Starter Set (also produced by Tehnolog).

Rather than build this directly onto the platform I found a separate base for this (an old Warhammer movement tray), with addition of some magnets I’ll be able to use this as part of the rig table or just as a standalone piece elsewhere (meaning it may see the apocalypse after all).

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Refinery sat on modular platform (Zulu for scale!)

For the time being I have kept painting simple, a black undercoat and all over gun metal drybrush.  Various ‘tanks’ have been picked out in red, with ‘valves’ painted gold.  At some point moving forward I will look to weather this up suitably.

 

Crane and loading area

For this part of the board I wanted a big structure and rather than try and build something completely from scratch I’ve gone down the MDF kit route.  TTCombat do some really good value kits and I’ve gone with their ‘dockside crane’.  Again I’m approaching this from a modular view point with the idea being this can be removed from the rig and used as a separate piece on a different board as required.

The build on this was fairly straightforward, with minimal fuss, although the tolerances were very tight and I have had to do some creative trimming to make all the parts fit.  This was more down to my lack of care and precision rather than any inherent issue with the kit.

 

I painted this in quite a basic manner blocking out colours roughly and allowing the subsequent weathering to do a lot of the work for me (masking mistakes and dulling down some of the primary colours). Warning stripes were added using an MDF stencil, again from TTCombat.  The stenciled lettering and logos on were ‘painted’ using Gundam paint marker pens.

I wanted to give the crane a look that, although operational, it was no longer cared for or maintained properly.  This involved extensive use of rust effects, including dry brushing of Citadel Ryza Rust, a liberal application of some Modelmates Rust Effects and the use of weathering sprays from Plastic Soldier Company.  The whole model was then sealed using a liberal all over spray of Testors Dullcote.

Platform tiles

I’ve also started to add some colour to the platform tiles themselves.  Again I am keeping this quite basic for the time being.  A base coat of silver was applied using a cheap (and very smelly) can of paint sourced from Poundland and an brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone was then applied.  This was again dulled and sealed using Dullcote.  There is some further tidy up and weathering to do here, but that is for another time.

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It’s all starting to come together and although time is rapidly running out,  I’m still on track to debut this at the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames on May 26th.

 

Hobby 2.0 – 3D printing for tabletop gaming

I’ve been sitting on the fence when it comes to 3D printing for a couple of years now.  This has partly been down to funds, but also in no small part to the time investment required and ease of use of both hardware and software.

However this last Christmas I took the opportunity to pick up a 3D printer for the first time.  After a couple of months of sitting in a box I finally got this up and running over the last couple of weeks and have started my journey into what I am calling ‘Hobby 2.0’.

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The printer I chose is a Creality CR-10S – a good budget printer with a large print bed

Let’s get things straight from the off, 3D printing at home is by no means a ‘plug and play’ experience yet.  Yes, the affordability has put this technology within the reach of most now (in the same way as other new technology over the years has gradually got both more affordable and more powerful over time).  The key thing to accept though is that 3D printing at the moment is a hobby in its own right.  It requires time and patience and a willingness to fail in order to get better.

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My very first 3D print – a cobblestone base.  Start small in order to test and tweak settings.

There are plenty of great articles and resources out there on the internet for those wanting to get involved for the first time, so the purpose of this article is not to present a detailed guide to getting started, but to offer some advice and share my experiences so far as a tabletop gaming hobbyist trying to get into this new and exciting technology.

My main takeaways from about a month of 3D printing for tabletop gaming so far are as follows:

  • Don’t expect miracles (be patient and take stock) – prints will fail and in some cases may not turn out exactly as you planned, but bear in mind just what we are now able to achieve in our own homes!
  • Expect to do more work after the print is finished – you are not going to get a tabletop ready model straight off the printer.  Some clean-up will be required (but then that’s half the fun of being a hobbyist isn’t it?)
  • It takes a long time – prints can take hours or even days – again, however just consider what we are now able to do in our own front rooms!
  • Little things can make a big difference, be that ‘bed leveling’, temperature settings or the type and make of filament you are using.
  • Get a buddy or a guru if you can – I’ve been very lucky to get some great support off a fellow 3D printing gamer via Facebook.  Ask questions on forums and social media, watch YouTube videos, read articles, but accept that everyone’s’ experiences and setup can very.
  • Get on Thingiverse and have a browse!  Can’t recommend this site enough for free model files.
  • In order to process 3D print files (STL) for you printer you will need some ‘slicing’ software.  Find some software you like and can get on with.  For me Cura has proven ideal, is widely used in the community, is relatively easy to use and has some good features.

So as I say this isn’t a detailed ‘how to’ guide, but I hope it offers some perspective on what to me is a fascinating new aspect to the tabletop hobby.

I’ll be doing plenty of articles moving forward on taking my 3D prints to the tabletop, so stay tuned.  You can see some of my efforts so far below: